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Tripping In LSD’s Birthplace: A Story For “Bicycle Day”

A scientist’s brave self-experimentation led to a new awakening

Can you imagine riding a bicycle on acid?

On April 19, 1943, Albert Hofmann, the Swiss father of psychedelic medicine, dropped lysergic acid diethylamide and went on a bike ride, becoming the first human to ever trip on acid. The rest is psychedelic history.

Hofmann had synthesized LSD in his lab as a medical stimulant for the respiratory and circulatory system in 1938, but at the time he didn’t know what powers it held. Revisiting his discovery five years later, he caught a glimpse of its effects when some of the drug was absorbed through his fingertips, describing the experience as “dream-like” and a “not unpleasant intoxicated-like condition.”

Intrigued, three days later — on a day that would go down in history as “Bicycle Day” — he did what any responsible scientist would do: Experiment on himself.

Taking a dose of 250 micrograms in his laboratory, thinking it was an appropriate threshold dose (we know now that he overdid it; 200 micrograms is the standard), Hofmann turned on, tuned in, and dropped out for the first time. Within an hour, his perception began to ebb and flow rapidly, and he began to freak out, convinced that his neighbor was a witch and that he was going insane. Hofmann wanted to go home.

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